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Gutierrez made the difference, says Colombia coach

18 June 2015, 18:25

Santiago - After Colombia lost their opening Copa America tie to Venezuela, coach Jose Pekerman made one change to his starting lineup for the second match against Brazil but in his view it made all the difference.

Pekerman dropped Sevilla striker Carlos Bacca for Wednesday night's game and replaced him with River Plate forward Teofilo Gutierrez. Colombia beat the Brazilians 1-0, breathing new life into their campaign.

Also read: Neymar awaits copa fate after Brazil loss to Colombia

"There was only one change but it was crucial," the coach said. "Gutierrez's performance was extraordinary.

"Teo hasn't had that many opportunities for the national side but he took his chance. He played very intelligently. He understood exactly what the team needed and was a good team mate for James (Rodriguez), for (Radamel) Falcao and (Juan) Cuadrado."

Bacca come on as a substitute for Gutierrez late in the match but was shown the red card during a fracas with Brazilian players at the final whistle.

He will miss Colombia's final Group C match against Peru on Sunday, meaning Gutierrez is almost certain to start again.

Gutierrez's sparky display made up for another indifferent showing from Falcao who came to the Copa after a tough season at Manchester United and has yet to recover the form he showed before the injury that ruled him out of last year's World Cup.

"I think little by little Falcao will get back to his best. It's just a matter of time," Pekerman said. "I'm optimistic. I can see him getting better.

"But that doesn't mean there isn't healthy competition in the squad. Colombia have some great forwards and they all know that at some point they'll get their chance."

Colombia's victory left them level with Brazil on three points after two matches. Venezuela, who also have three points, take on Peru in Valparaiso in their second match later on Thursday.

- Reuters


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